Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bedford Borough Council Refuse Our Application

Bedford Borough Council Planning Committee at their November 2011 meeting, voted to refuse our application.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Riseley Parish Council Approve Latest Plans

At the Riseley Parish Council meeting on the 20th  October 2011 the Council resolved to APPROVE our revised planning application.
Following a detailed presentation of the modifications made to the application and a lengthy discussion by Councillors, a resolution that the application now met the requirements of Bedford Borough Council Planning Policy H38 was proposed. This was seconded and passed by 5 votes to 2 with one abstainer.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Further revisions to the design

Semi integrated PV modules 

We plan to fit semi integrated PV modules to the roof such that the surface of the PV module comes flush with the surface of the tiles. Semi integrating the modules is more expensive than the much more common surface mounting but is more visually pleasing.
We have also worked hard to concentrate the PV array to the eastern end of the roof. This leaves the western end of the roof, the end nearest to the neighbours, dominated by tiles.
The PV array is not visible from Riseley High Street.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

21st Century Eco Cottage

21st Century Eco Cottage

21st Century Eco Cottage


The proposed new dwelling will be single storey with attics.  The cottage will have lime rendered walls, a clay plain tiled roof, a green roof on the garage and shiplap timber on the “dormer elevations”.  Just the end part of the existing conservatory on 160A will be demolished. It is our aim to move into the cottage releasing our current house for family occupation.

Objections: After listening to the objections to our previous application raised by neighbours in 160, 158 and 156 High Street and by Riseley Parish Council and after lengthy consultations with Bedford Borough Council Planning Department, we have submitted a revised design.

Overlooking: To overcome the objections of possible overlooking towards 160 158 and 156 we have developed a design that has no first floor windows at all, looking south or west. We have removed the spare bedroom windows in the gable end facing the High St. The gable end will be rendered. There are now no windows, at first floor level, which look towards 160, 158 or 156.

Additional roof lights have been introduced, but as with the original design, these roof lights are 2m above floor level and provide no opportunity for overlooking.  The ground floor windows that face south will be below the existing 2m high boundary fence and will present no opportunity for overlooking.  There can now be no objections based on overlooking towards 158 and 156 or 160

Elevated position:  Much was made in the objections of the proposed new dwelling being on an elevated position.  This was not the case and will not be the case for the revised design.  The site will be excavated to the same level at the existing house 160A, which was built on an excavated site in 1983.The ridge line of the roof of the proposed cottage sits 1m below the ridge line of the existing house 160A and at roughly the same level as the roof ridge line of 156 and 158.

Zinc roof:  The Parish Council did not like the zinc roof on the original design (Sheet zinc is not in keeping with the village) so the revised design has a more traditional clay plain tile roof.  We are seeking approval for an array of PV solar panels on the south facing roof.

Photo Voltaic Panels:  We plan to fit semi integrated PV panels to the roof such that the surface of the PV panel comes flush with the surface of the tiles.  Semi integrated PV panels are placed within a framework tray that sits directly on the roof joists and the roof tiles are then butted up to these to form a water proof seal. This is a more expensive method of PV installation but the PV panels are flush with the roof surface giving a more pleasing appearance. We have also designed a layout which concentrates the PV panels to the eastern end of the roof,-away from the High St. This leaves the western end of the roof, the end nearest to the neighbours, dominated by tiles. The PV panels will not be visible from the High Street.

Size of the plot
The Parish Council also commented about the size of the plot (cramped plot / a bit squashed in / very cramped).  The plot is 12.4m wide (40ft) and by way of comparison this is roughly the same width as the plot 160 High Street sits on and is in fact the same as the average plot width for a new build house in the UK  An inspection of the site will show that it is well able to accommodate the proposed dwelling and Bedford Borough Council are content that the site can accommodate a dwelling of the size and scale we propose.

The distance between our proposed eco cottage and:
  • No 160 will be 115ft (35m),
  • No 158 will be 92ft (28m)
  • No 156 will be 112ft (34m)
By way of comparison these distances are roughly the same as the distance between the corner of our existing house and the nearest point of 160, 158 and 156

Conservation Area: The Bedford Borough Council Conservation Officer Mr Jonathan Duck is of the opinion that the proposed cottage fits with the style of development which has taken place at the Northern end of the village over the years.  He states “In regard to the document ‘Riseley and its Conservation Area’ published in 1975, I agree that there is mention made of the zone being generally unsuitable for development, except in the interests of agriculture.  I also note, however, that there has been a significant level of development in the area to the east of High Street and within Zone 6, within close proximity of both nos 160A and the listed buildings adjacent to the road.  A figure ground drawing of the existing situation shows various buildings of a similar scale to no 160A in very close proximity to the adjacent dwellings.  Their relationship one to the other could at best be considered perpendicular to the road, but it is certainly notable that the relationship is also quite varied both to the roadside and the older buildings.  As such, I do not consider the introduction of a new dwelling adjacent to no 160A out of character, simply in terms of its location.  In terms of scale, the figure ground shows several quite large units in similarly close proximity to other structures in the area, which I consider set a precedent in Zone 6.” 
It is worth noting that in “Riseley and its Conservation Area 1975”, Numbers 160,158 and 156 High Street are shown as a terrace of 3 listed cottages.  156 was subsequently demolished and 158 and 160 were fused to make one dwelling.  156 and 158 were then built in the former cottage garden.
The garage attached to the proposed eco cottage is single storey with a flat green roof and will not be as high as the existing shed with its plastic sheet roof which it will replace.  The new garage wall will replace the existing boundary wooden fence.

Planting and landscaping
With regard to planting and landscaping, moving the house 3.5m deeper into the site could make it possible to retain the weeping birch tree at the top of the existing drive together with the existing hawthorn tree between the proposed site and the corner of the boundary with 160.  This will make it virtually impossible to see the new dwelling from Riseley High St.  It will sit lower than the paddock level in 158 and a retaining wall will be built to maintain a strip of land inside our boundary at the same ground level as in the paddock of 158.  This strip will carry the existing close boarded fence and provide an opportunity for planting a new hedge and other trees to enhance the view above the sheds in the paddock garden of 158.

Code Level 4

Eco Rating using the Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes was introduced in December 2006.  The Code is the UK national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and create homes that are more sustainable.

The Code measures the sustainability of a new home against categories of sustainable design, rating the ‘whole home’ as a complete package.  The Code uses a 1 to 6 star rating system to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a new home (1 is poor and 6 is excellent).  The Code sets minimum standards for energy and water use at each level . We will build to the level 4 standard.

The Code for sustainable homes covers nine categories of sustainable design including:
Energy and CO2 Emissions
Surface Water Run-off
Heath and Wellbeing

Lifetime Homes Standard

Our 21st Century Eco Cottage will be built to the Lifetime Homes Standards.  These standards mean that as we grow older and less able the house still works for us, particularly with regard to wheelchairs.
ü  LTHS 01: Provide at least one wheel chair accessible parking space
ü  LTHS 02: Provide wheel chair access from car parking
ü  LTHS 03: Approach - no steps to all external doors
ü  LTHS 04: External entrances must be illuminated with level flush threshold, covered entrance ie no step
ü  LTHS 05: Stairs should provide easy access with uniform rise
ü  LTHS 06: All internal and external doors (except cupboards) should have a clear opening width of 800mm and provide a minimum 300mm to the side of the leading edge.  All corridors are a minimum of 1200mm wide
ü  LTHS 07: Adequate circulation space for wheelchair users exists and space for turning in kitchen and living/dining has been provided
ü  LTHS 08: Living area at entrance level
ü  LTHS 09: House of 2 or more storeys must have living room at entrance level with adequate room for future bed space (in addition we are making provision for a lift)
ü  LTHS10: WC at ground floor level and wheelchair accessible; WC with drainage and service provision for future shower room; WC and WHB positioned on structural walls
ü  LTHS11: Bathroom and WC walls must be of block work and studwork with 18mm WBP ply face to enable future wall fixings (eg hand rails)
ü  LTHS 12: Space for future through floor lift from ground to first floor
ü  LTHS 13: Main bedroom and bathroom ceiling to be strong enough to support future hoist
ü  LTHS 14: Side approach to bath and accessible toilet and wash basin (ground floor level only)
ü  LTHS 15: Windows – living room window glazing begins at finished floor level and is easy to operate
ü  LTHS 16: All switches, sockets and controls at a height useable by all and within a specified ‘reach zone’ (between 450mm and 1200mm)

Site Plan


Floor plans

Construction materials

Tree mitigation measures

Modifications to existing house

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Riseley Eco House Project would be a perfect venture for Bedford Borough Council to get behind as part of the Climate Change Initiative.

It is good to see the Bedford Borough Council Climate Change Issues and Options Paper dated December 2010 with its focus on the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 at
or see the post below this one.

As you know, since 2008 we have been offering to build a Code for Sustainable Living Level 6 house in Riseley.  We have a strong relationship with Bedford College and have offered to work with them on this project.  We would instrument the house and put it live on the web so that all can monitor its energy saving and sustainable activities in real time.

As pointed out in the Climate Change Issues and Options paper, achieving the requirements of Code Level 5 and 6 is expensive.  Estimates vary between 40% and 50% more expensive than Code Level 4.

We are willing to fund this extra cost and make the Riseley Eco House a beacon project for Bedford Borough Council.  All we ask is the removal of the important open space designation from part of the site and an adjustment to the Riseley SPA to include the Eco House Code Level 6.  The street scene, hedgerow and tree line remain unchanged.  The essential open nature of this paddock which has no public access, is 1.2 metres above street level and is in private ownership, will hardly change.

The Riseley Eco House Project would be a perfect venture for Bedford Borough Council to get behind as part of the Climate Change Initiative.

Please share this message with others as appropriate and please do contact us if you would like to support this project.

All best wishes for 2011

Your sincerely
George and Sue Davies

160A High Street
MK44 1DR
Tel +44 1234 708614
mobile +44 7768 197549